ANGER is a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD thing.

 

Grief is not rational. It is 100% emotion. Emotions are usually not rational.

All change evokes a response. The change of grief multiplies these emotions and can leave us in a tangled mess of raw emotion.

Let’s take a look at some of these and examine how they may manifest, both rationally and irrationally.

ANGER

Ah, the ugly one goes first. Society hushes anger, and tantrums are not welcome, especially in public.

Yet in grief, we are so very very very angry. However, the word “anger” doesn’t even begin to cover what we feel. 

Look around at all the healthy, happy couples in the store, restaurant, subway, movies. See them smile, place items in their carts, laugh over a shared joke, point out the dinner specials, share popcorn.

Totally unfair, we think. Why do THEY get to go on with their happy lives while we are miserable? UNFAIR, we silently scream. My person didn’t deserve this, I didn’t deserve this. Anger builds until we find ourselves taking guilty pleasure in the fact that one day, one of those happy people will die and the other one will be all alone and crying and miserable and unhappy and ALONE like us. THERE !!!!! So take that, you happy people !!!

Or look around and see the unhappy couples bickering, and play that game again. UNFAIR !!! Why do those unhappy people who can’t stand each other get to live when my person had to die ??? UNFAIR !!!! My person and I were happy, we didn’t fight. Well, at least not in public. Again, rage builds and I’m wishing one of them dead.

Or, look around and see your friends becoming grandparents. UNFAIR !!!! I’ll never share that joy with my person. I’ve not only lost my person, I’ve lost my future joy with him.

Look around and see people who are mean, nasty, abusive. See the smokers, the obese, the addicts, the living who you judge should be dead. UNFAIR !!!! My person took care of himself, ate well, was a good, kind, generous and loving person. 

Like all emotions, anger is neither good or bad. It just IS. It’s what we choose to do with it that makes anger destructive or constructive.

Welcoming ALL the feelings in grief, even anger, is critical to the process. Let’s look at how anger can be welcomed into our journey, and how it can be useful.

Like all emotions, anger serves a purpose in processing change. It can lead us to set boundaries, for example. Feeling angry is a warning sign that the situation is not healthy, and perhaps distance may be in order.

Anger can also help us identify our fears. Becoming upset seeing older happy couples, for example, can lead us to the real issue, fear of growing old alone. 

While recognizing the positive aspects of anger, we need to be aware of anger’s ability to spontaneously combust . In grief, emotions are raw. Mental and physical exhaustion may inhibit our self control, leaving us feeling like a self-justified loose cannon. We see ourselves reacting disproportionately and even inappropriately, but our widow brain somehow can’t reach the controls to reel ourselves back in. 

Justified, real, raw anger can be externalized and become RAGE, a powerful, extreme, volatile and uncontrolled anger. What does rage look like? What does it feel like ? Something like this:

I have never reacted with the degree of anger I have in my bones right now. My throat is tight, I am in a blind rage, and if I were an animal I would want to bite off someone’s head. Some of it is not rational, I know this, yet some of it makes perfect sense to me. Once I’m in the cycle, it’s a place of no return. My jaw is clenched, my nerves are activated, and I am just plain mad, mad, mad at everything! Frankly, I’m exhausted from being so angry. This is not who I used to be. 

Or, anger can be internalized, and we fight to keep it hidden. Perhaps we were raised to never show anger, that it is “unladylike” or “ungentelmanly” Perhaps we fear that if we do let it out, we won’t be able to control it. Maybe we fear being judged as volatile, unstable, weak, or crazy.

Whether we internalize or externalize our anger, we still feel emotionally unbalanced Acting out or hiding your anger does not resolve our emotional response to change.

Unprocessed and stuffed anger can  lead to health issues like high blood pressure, anxiety, cardiac problems and headaches. In grief, we must allow ourselves to feel all the feelings and process them.

In order to get a handle on our anger and find healthy ways of expressing it, we must take a hard look at it and find what is feeding it. We need to do some soul searching to become aware of other emotions at the root of our anger in grief.

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.. in her best selling “The Dance of Anger” explains :

Anger is something we feel. It exists for a reason and always deserves our respect and attention. We all have a right to everything we feel–and certainly, our anger is no exception. There are questions about anger, however, that may be helpful to ask ourselves: “What am I really angry about?” “What is the problem, and whose problem is it?” “How can I sort out who is responsible for what?” 

Let’s take a griever’s look at some of these and ask those hard questions of our souls.

What am I really angry about ? What is the problem ? 

…..obviously, my person is dead.

Whose problem is it ?

….well, it’s mine. Because he’s dead, and I’m alive. 

Who is responsible for what ?

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. I’m responsible because (choose what applies to you)

  • I should have made him/her see a doctor
  • I should have made him/her lose weight/eat better/exercise/stop smoking
  • I should have been a better wife/husband. If I was, he/she would still be here
  • I should have made him/her work less and enjoy life more. Now there is no more time.
  • I should have been there when he/she collapsed, hit that tree, stopped breathing, etc because I could have saved them if I was there

All of these woulda coulda shoulda’s will be covered in the chapter on Bargaining, but for now let’s just assume that yes, you are responsible for every possible bad thing that led to your person’s death. So yes, you have every right to be angry at yourself.

OR>>>>>>>

Let’s find a scapegoat other than yourself and turn our anger on him/her. A common one, if you are a believer, is God. You can give him all the glory and find comfort in it all being His plan, or you can give Him a piece of your mind and get it off your chest, and blame Him for a stupid plan. Either way, your person is still dead. 

Both of these scenarios depict a sense of helplessness. Blaming yourself for your person’s death turns your anger inward, punishing yourself for what your rational mind recognizes as inescapable. Call it fate, but humans don’t control it. Blaming God, or aquiescing to omnipotent will, creates de facto victimhood for both you and your person.

Regardless of the drawn conclusion, both scenarios invoke a loss of power and control, which can lead to despair. Fear of the unknown and random nature of life can lead to anxiety.

It leads to fear. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where’d you go ?

2019 is my year of consciousness.

A year to explore the mind, thoughts, emotions.

Where does our reality originate? Do we create it?

What is actually real? True? How can we know, how can we be sure of anything?

Deep thoughts that run like an open app every minute of every day now since I started the inquiry. Battery draining, yet critical.

An awakening at age 50 inspired me to question everything I thought I knew for sure, leading to newfound freedom from religion, rules, dogma, and statism. New vistas opened, compassion and empathy replaced labels and judgment. A whole new world opened, and it was very good.

Until John died. Everything changed. Uncertainty created fear and pain became my reality. Wandering through the darkness, pushing through sludge to grasp a lifeline sucked up all my energy.

Widows are discouraged from asking big questions. “Why” is like kryptonite to our healing. Just accept what you cannot change, we are told, and move forward.

Well, screw that. I have spent 3 and a half years asking why and pushing through pain, yet still, come up empty and confused. It still makes no sense — here’s the clincher — in the “traditional, rational, 3-dimensional sense”

It makes perfect sense when I step out of this dimension and into the next. I’m not talking about “heaven” or eternal life or whatever dogma floats your boat.

II’m referring to BIOCENTRISM or the holographic universe theory, which states that we create our own reality. Everything is an illusion. These computer keys I am typing on only exist because I create them in my mind.

Holy magic mushrooms, what a trip, Batman !!!

down the rabbit hole………..

Begin here, with this widow’s story, her journey from confusion to another dimension. Through the door into what she calls The Temple Universe. I think I’ll join her, because that is where my John is.

https://christinarasmussen.com/wheredidyougo/

#christinarasmussen

Clouds

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

The Ying/yang of life. Duality. Can’t have one without the other.

Sun/clouds

Day/night

Life/death

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

560_watching_the_clouds_go_by_by_alia_moosvi_dcjmtke-pre

Understanding/mystery

Ignorance/knowledge

The circle of life.

Finite/infinate.

Technology has added a new definition to the word “cloud” PC Magazine explains:

The term “cloud” when talking about technology or computing, is not new. In simple terms, ‘cloud‘ is a metaphor for the Internet. … Information and data is stored on physical or virtual servers, which are maintained and controlled by a cloud computing provider, such as Amazon .

Ah, yes. A metaphor. We humans love our metaphors, don’t we ? Especially when the world does not make sense, we force our square pegs into round holes .

It’s kinda/sorta like this, we say. Imagine a cloud, way up in the sky. That’s where all your electronic data goes.

But, wait … ok, hold on…..as our puny little brains try to order the chaos…..

What is data ? Just a bunch of ones and zeros which when programmed, create words, pictures, numbers — like magic ! Like this:

In computing, data is information that has been translated into a form that is efficient for movement or processing.

Raw data is a term used to describe data in its most basic digital format.

So is data matter? Does it have shape and space? Weight? Or is it ephemeral, ghostlike, a shadowy imitation and representation of truth? What is Truth? Is our humanity simply a blip on a computer screen? Do we really exist?

What is real, what is imaginary, what lasts, what remains, what is immortal.

Are we an infinite soul in a temporary suit ? How did we get here ?

Who am I ? Where am I going ? Humanities 101.

The eternal question, because we each seek  individual answers.

cloudunknowing

A 14th-century anonymous monk pondered the question and wrote the classic masterpiece “The Cloud of Unknowing“, guiding the reader through the cloud’s mist (hmm…mystery) to an encounter with nothing and nowhere, to what Evelyn Underhill calls “the loving discernment of reality”

What is real, what is true.

To what many call “god” , with either a capital or lower case “g”

The journey is the destination.

The question is the answer.

Paradox. The endless circle.

Zen and the Art of Grief

It’s Easter Sunday 2019. Despite Mayan predictions, 7 years post-apocalypse. 19 years post Y2K.

Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking……into the future.

Be here now. Live in the moment. The present is all we have. Mindfulness.

lotusoom

OOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM.

The spirit is tired. The mind races, on and on and on and on, around and around it goes, where it stops, nobody knows.

This is the dance of grief. Past memories, future emptiness. Present loneliness.

Answers and comfort desperately sought, never found. Temporary escape in sleep and the cycle repeats.

Clarity beckons, and facing our own humanity becomes secondary to the pain. More questions, no answers. It remains a mystery.

Since the beginning of time, humans have sought the answer. Depending on where you were born and who your parents were, you may think you have it. Your god is the right god, the only god. The way, the truth, the light. Right.

You follow the rules, you perform the rituals, you teach your children well. you live, you die, you get your just reward or punishment. What happens next? Who really knows?

All we truly know is our human condition, and making sense of that is difficult enough without speculating on the afterlife. Religion can help, or it can hurt, or both.

When John died, I considered myself an atheist. At age 50, I stopped using. Religion. I got clean and sober – from religion. Hi, I’m Margie, and I’m a religion addict. I’ve been clean for 9 years.

I gave up dogma, rules, smells, bells, sacraments, holy days of obligation, saints, stigmata, apparitions. Christmas, Ashes, palms, Easter, Advent. Purple, gold, white, green. Body and blood. Virgin births, 3 kings, angels, loaves, and fishes, silly stories. Gone. The papacy, clergy, canon law, commandments no longer ruled my life. Fear and shame, Satan and all his deceptions, be gone !

Rather than replacing my addiction with another, as addicts do, I reveled in the cloud of unknowing, found peace and harmony in nature, delved into self-discovery and being good without god. Life was good.

Fast forward 6 years to the beast of cancer, death and grief. Uninvited and unrelenting, the pain just refuses to pack up and leave me alone.

Without religion’s crutch, how’s a girl supposed to stand her ground against the tide of tears and uncertainty ?

Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. You had the power all along, you just didn’t know it.

The power is LOVE. Simple yet profound. No need to complicate it. It is what it is. No book required. Just believe.

onelove

I’m a believer.

 

 

 

 

 

You Should Be Dancin’ …….yeah…..

Recently a friend tried to help me by suggesting I go “clubbing”  I think I’ll pass.

Let’s take trip back in time to the disco era. It’s 1970 something. Polyester is king. Babysitting $$ spent at Lerner Shops in the Northgate Plaza. Flared high-waisted slacks, rust in color, and a button-down, skin-hugging long sleeved blouse in a garish pattern and I’m dressed for success. Add a pair of platform, a spritz of Love’s Baby Soft, slap on some Kissing Potion, and it’s Ladies’ Night, and the feeling’s right, oh yes it’s Ladies’ Night, oh what a night (oh what a night)

Burn Baby Burn (Disco Inferno) You can Ring My Bell – (ring my bell, ding dong ding dong) — That’s the Way (uh huh, uh huh) I LIKE It (uh huh, uh huh)

Guys with raging testosterone, even tighter fitting clothes, cheap cologne, solid gold Italian horn on a neck chain, driving a Corvette were everywhere, slinking around looking for a good time.

Again, I’ll pass.

Jump back in the time machine and it’s 2019 !!! WTH happened? 40 years have brought us into this Brave New World of technology. The Friday night phone call from your Mystery Date replaced by an impersonal and creepy “someone viewed your profile” on Match.com. Algorithms poorly imitate love at first sight.

And the beat goes on.

Welcome to the New Disco, the digital dance floor if you will. Now follow these steps:

  1. sort through dozens of sites marketed to the over 50 crowd
  2. find a free trial package and avoid the barrage of money-saving offers for a lifetime membership
  3. Invent a cute name
  4. Invent a cuter profile, complete with fascinating interests you never actually participate in.
  5. Download the cutest profile pic possible, carefully cropped, edited and retouched
  6. Wait approximately ten minutes for men at least 10 years older ( if they are not lying) than you to “like” your profile
  7. log off crying and go eat some ice cream.

Online dating, the quagmire of self doubt. fear, inadequacy for the aging, lonely, broken ex-disco queens. That’s another post, but it sure beats the “club scene”

At least pajamas and a cheap glass of wine are all that’s required to peruse this pathetic remnant of baby boomers.

No polyester allowed. Reading glasses and Aleve encouraged. Depends, dentures, pacemakers negotiable.

 

 

What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted

As I walk this land with broken dreams
I have visions of many things
But happiness is just an illusion
Filled with sadness and confusion
What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find 
Some kind of peace of mind
Maybe
The roots of love grow all around
But for me they come a-tumblin’ down
Every day heartaches grow a little stronger
I can’t stand this pain much longer
I walk in shadowsm searching for light
Cold and alone, no comfort in sight
Hoping and praying for someone to care
Always moving and goin’ nowhere
What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find 
Some kind of peace of mind
Help me
……………………………………………………………….written by Jimmy Ruffin
harlequinbodice ripper

Working circulation in a public library I checked out numerous romance novels to patrons. Originally published by Harlequin , the genre has evolved from chaste stories of good girls helplessly in love with their men to the bawdy and disturbing realm of S&M, as in the bestselling series Shades of Grey.

Somewhere between those 2 extremes lies a genre of romance novels playfully named “bodice rippers”, from the buxom woman and her Fabio look-alike lover depicted on every cover.

As a librarian, I never understood the appeal of any of these.  Not only were they poorly written, the predictable and repetitive storylines were boring. I couldn’t imagine anyone getting through the first chapter, never mind the whole book.
I actually felt sorry for women who read this trash. How lonely and sad must they be to crawl into bed with an imaginary duke/pirate/sea captain/castaway/plantation owner/ pioneer/ordinary Joe every night and immerse themselves in make believe love ?

At the time I was a happily married woman, enjoying the freedom of her empty nest and the wisdom that many years of marriage brought, with a husband who was the love of her life. I had enough romance and was blissfully satisfied. We had the kind of love, as a college friend used to say, “you read about.” The kind of love that grew stronger with time and would last forever.

 

 

Until death do us part. Which it did.

 

 

It’s been three years now. To summarize, it’s been a living hell. You can read all about it here in my blog.

 

This short little blog post doesn’t even scratch the surface of love. Not romantic love, yes , that of course is crucial. But the life-giving, soul-nourishing, all-encompassing, love that puts your beloved beyond all else. The center of your universe. Your reason for being. Your everything.

Living without that love, learning to be alone, accepting it and finding peace. Thinking about being alone forever. Wondering if love will come again.

Tall order. Suffice it to say that I’m still working on all of that.

In the meantime, my heart is on sabbatical. Out of order. Not taking new patients. Not ready for prime time. Nothing to give, too needy. Temporarily out of order

 

heart out of order

I’m starting to understand those women who devour romance novels. The void they fill. The escape they provide. The fantasies that feed their dreams. The spark of hope they ignite.

I haven’t picked one up yet. But I get it.

 

 

This is unacceptable.

Kubler Ross wrote that acceptance is the final stage of the grief process. A previous blog post dealt with that. https://wordpress.com/post/awidowswalkdotblog.wordpress.com?url=https%3A%2F%2Fawidowswalkdotblog.wordpress.com%2F2017%2F09%2F28%2Fpea-soup%2F&title=Pea%20soup

Getting-to-Acceptance

This post is written almost 3 years after losing my husband John to brain cancer, GBM, glioblastoma multiforme.

Acceptance, by definition requires consent. Taking what is offered. Seeing it as suitable or adequate.

No.

Death is never suitable or adequate. Losing the love of your life to a beast of an illness, watching them suffer and die before your eyes, is not OK. Unacceptable.

Standing by helplessly as your entire world comes crashing down around you. Unacceptable.

Crying out in pain and disbelief, while those who claim to love you cast blame and shame. Unacceptable.

Playing out the clock with fear and agony as each holiday, anniversary, birthday approaches. Knowing you just have to hang on until it passes. Realizing there is another one barreling down the train track, ready to knock you down . Unacceptable.

Knowing you cannot live like this, realizing you didn’t die, and wishing you did. Unacceptable.

Seeking meaning in a world that has gone dark without the one person who gave it light. Unacceptable.

Wrapping your head around the fact that this is forever. He is never ever ever ever ever coming back. He will never ever ever ever drive his truck into the driveway, jog up the back steps, swing open the door and call “Hon ! Where are you, I’m home !” Never ever ever ever again. Unacceptable.

Seeing friends plan joyful weddings, welcome grandchildren. Not for you. That joy will never be yours, a giant piece is always missing. Unacceptable.

Acceptance. Letting it be. Allowing it to be the way it is. Not trying to change it. Knowing you can’t change it. Unacceptable.

The serenity prayer, accept the things I cannot change.

serenity_prayer

 

I’m still working on it.

I am trying to accept,

EXCEPT ………………     I STILL HATE IT.

Acceptance Puzzle Piece Complete Inner Peace Admit Fault Shortco

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

You don’t bring me flowers,

You don’t sing me love songs

BECAUSE YOU’RE DEAD.

This widows’ Valentine message most likely wouldn’t make any money for Hallmark.

So what’s a widow to do on the invented holiday when romantic love is in the air, red hearts and chocolates invade her world? When everywhere she looks she is reminded that she is no longer anyone’s sweetheart?   intertwined hearts

When her own alive, beating, red heart is shattered ?alone val day

While researching for this post I came across a heartwarming article about a lucky widow (now there’s an oxymoron for ya !) whose late husband, before his death,  thoughtfully arranged for an annual delivery of Valentine’s flowers to his wife ad infinitum.roses

Most of us can’t count on that Hallmark movie scene at our own homes, so then, what?

On my first solo intertwined heartsValentines’ Day I made a tiny step towards my new life by rearranging my bedroom furniture. A new comforter set, pillows, and rug were purchased. Then came the tear-inducing task of emptying the drawers and discarding what I could of John’s clothing. His underwear went in the trash, everything else was boxed and stored in the attic for future quilts. Someday. When I’m ready.

I worked myself to exhaustion that day. Once finished, I slept in the bed, our bed, without John, for my first Valentines’ Day alone, with memories of 36 intertwined heartsValentines Days, playing in my head. All the pounds of Phillips Candy House fudge, chocolate covered cherries, for me and the kids. The year I contracted chickenpox, at age 29, looked like hell and still felt like the most beautiful girl in the world as my John brought me candy and told me he loved me, and to stay in bed while he took care of the babies. True love.

Flash forward to our last intertwined heartsValentines Day together. A major snowstorm had delayed our dinner reservations so late that we gave up and drove home, hoping to grab a bite at the little local tavern, only to find it closed early due to snow. A meager dinner of cheese and crackers by the fire at home sufficed and we made up for it the next day with a lovely lunch.

Now I celebrate a combined Valentines Day/Birthday with my black lab Babe, who turns 10 tomorrow. Cheeseburgers for both of us.

John won’t buy me flowers this year, or any year. I will buy flowers for his grave, and a rose or two for me. And chocolates. Because he would want that.

Chocolates and wine for me. At least the major food groups are covered and I have 90 pounds of warm dog in my bed. That and my memories will get me through.

pink-heart-clipart-15.png

 

 

Here it comes…. or Super Bowl 50

Ina few days the NE Patriots face the Philadelphia Eagles in Superbowl LII. (52) I understand the overpaid millionaires will gather on a large field dressed in gladiator type gear and give each other concussions while millions watch via television, consuming mass quantities of food and alcohol. The winning team receives a ring ,  trophy, accolades and product endorsement contracts. All may receive permanent brain injuries, but hey, it’s just a game.

I never paid much attention to my brain until John was diagnosed with glioblastoma, Stage 4 brain cancer. Until then I took for granted that my body would just function as the neurons fired, giving my organs messages. Limbs would move, eyes would blink, liver would cleanse the blood, it would pump, and life would go on without any help from me. My brain had it all under control.

Until that fateful day when John’s brain went haywire and seized, his body functioned perfectly well. But once off track, all bets were off. The fast-growing tumor was in his left frontal lobe, the part of the brain key in movement, language function, decision making, emotional regulation, and personality. In surgery, it was discovered that the tumor had spread to the longitudinal fissure, the line dividing the cerebral hemispheres. If disturbed, the surgery would have left him “not himself”

That fact that the brain makes us who we are was driven home to me by John’s illness. Everything we say or do, our personality, our reactions etc are driven by firing neurons and synapses. The cells formed in utero and their subsequent maturity rule the world.

So if all fires well and nature and nurture cooperate, we become healthy, happy, functioning members of society. We care, we love, we provide, we grow, we ponder, we think, we plan. We make good choices. We make the world a better place and leave our legacy of lives well lived when we depart.

But here’s the deal: we don’t. Our brains are delicate formations of grey matter, easily damaged by environmental toxins, emotional trauma, and sometimes physical trauma.  Today one in six Americans is diagnosed and treated for mental illness.

Yet the stigma persists and shame accompanies the diagnosis, resulting in a vicious cycle for the patient. Where support and compassion are needed, they often find misunderstanding and blame.

Like many diseases, mental illness has a genetic component. In my family that is the case. I am pre-disposed to depression and anxiety and have passed that gene onto my children.

I’ve suffered from the disease my entire life. After my mom’s suicide, I began to treat it, going on and off meds for years until finally accepting the truth that they, along with therapy,  were necessary and life-saving.

John’s illness and death kicked my depression and anxiety in high gear. Four months after he died I suffered what is known as a nervous breakdown. The numbness and disbelief that protected me from the harsh reality of his death were torn away, leaving me naked, alone, terrified and unable to stop crying and worrying. It was horrific. The Stones described it this way:

Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years.
And though you’ve tried you just can’t hide your eyes are edged with tears.
You better stop, look around,
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown.

I ended up in Maclean Hospital where I was hoping to receive intensive inpatient grief therapy. What I got was definitely not that. But that’s another post.

It so happened that the Super Bowl happened during my stay there. Somewhere in that bizarre memory of a “One Flew Over the Cukoos Nest” group gathered in the community room, with bowls of snacks next to the crayons and games, watching tribal entertainment., there is a novel waiting to be written.  I wandered in and out of the room, wondering which group was truly crazy – those incarcerated here or those millions in front of their TV’s at home.

your nocrazier

So there it is – my most surreal Super Bowl memory, one that resurfaces every year at this time. Others are caught up in the hoopla, the pre-game, the rivalry, the recipes.

I’m still trying to swim upstream against the tide of grief that keeps threatening to pull me under. The waves keep crashing over my head, blinding me, while I try to just catch my breath. Trying to maintain my mental health.

 

 

 

Sit with me, awhile

chair

There’s a mellow version of the Christian pop song “Sit With You Awhile” that I was fond of back in my religious days. The lyrics, although directed at God/Jesus, also speak to the empty space the death of spouse leaves:

When I can not feel
When my wounds don’t heal…..

 you are my life
So I don’t mind to die….

Cause I could just sit with you awhile
You could just hold me
Nothing can touch me
ThoughI’m wounded
ThoughI’ve died….

If I could just sit with you awhile
I’d need you to hold me
Moment by moment ’till forever passes by

John’s favorite chair was his recliner. He spent many happy hours there watching TV, playing computer solitaire, snoozing.

He also spent most of the summer of 2015 in that chair, when he wasn’t hospitalized. Though sick, weak and worried, he still enjoyed that chair and the pastimes that kept him occupied, despite his desire to “just go back to work”.

Every time I would pass him as he sat there, I would stop and kiss his head, trying to memorize the smell, the feel of his wispy grey hair. I always teased him that he had the cutest ears on earth. They were perfectly shaped, the right size, and laid nicely against his skull. He believed it was because his mother would turn him from side to side often as a baby. We would laugh about it and I would point out people with bad ears on TV or in public.

When he died, the chair remained in its same spot for months. Sitting in it made me cry, but it also made me feel close to John so my early days of grieving were spent mainly in that chair.

With new furniture came the quandary: what to do with this chair? No room for it with the new sectional. Not ready to toss it with the old sofa. So I lugged it upstairs and kept it in the hallway, knowing that someday it would be time to bring it to the dump.

Today was that day. After two years and three months, it’s time.

Youtube failed me, I had to figure out how to dismantle it on my own, and I did. Figured out how to use a ratchet wrench, much too late, but it made the last 3 bolts a breeze!

I had to cut the upholstery around the bolts to loosen them, and as I did I realized I could cut a nice swatch or whatever size piece from the seat and save it for a future project. It can join all John’s clothes I have boxed for a future quilt. I’m certainly not ready for that emotional tsunami. Someday.

Chairs – so many places, purposes, times. As I was removing the bolts I thought of all the chairs of John’s illness. The chair I sat in beside his ER bed when we got the horrific news of the brain tumor. The many hospital chairs in his room and in the labs waiting for tests. The chair he insisted I sit in the moment he died. That damn chair.

Broken hearts see the vacancy of the empty chair and long for just a few moments of the past, to share a meal, a smile, a hug. To see it full of life and love, even for a moment.

The recliner is no more. It sits in pieces awaiting my scissors, then I will cry as I take it to the dump. This I am certain of.

In my heart, I see John – alive, healthy, happy – in that chair. He is watching the Patriots with a nice plate of snacks I made him. Enjoying life. As I pass by him, I kiss him on the head and he grabs me by the waist and pulls me into his lap for a snuggle. “Sit with me ” he says, “Are you comfortable ?” And even though I’m not, I’m happy and at peace because this is what it’s all about. I snuggle in and we watch the game together.

If I could just sit with you awhile
I’d need you to hold me
Moment by moment ’till forever passes by

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